Folds of Honor (copy)

Folds of Honor founder Dan Rooney smiles as he watches the Budweiser Clydesdales at the nonprofit organization’s 10th anniversary celebration in Owasso last year. STEPHEN PINGRY/Tulsa World

Folds of Honor announced Monday, June 3, a collaboration between founder Major Dan Rooney and golf icon Jack Nicklaus and Nicklaus Design to create American Dunes Golf Club.

Located near the eastern shores of Lake Michigan, Grand Haven Golf Club hosted the first golf tournament that would inspire the formation of Folds of Honor and Patriot Golf Day. Now, the original layout is being totally redesigned and reimagined by Nicklaus and Nicklaus Design, and rebranded as American Dunes. A Jack Nicklaus Signature Golf Course, American Dunes will pay tribute to the United States Military.

“I love the game of golf,” Jack Nicklaus said in a news release, “but I love my country even more.”

Grand Haven first opened in 1965 and was designed by Michigan architects Bruce Matthews and his son Jerry Matthews. In 1998, Dr. John Rooney — father of Major Dan Rooney — bought Grand Haven Golf Club. It was 20 years later, when Dan sat down with Nicklaus on the back patio of The Bear’s Club in Jupiter, Florida, and told him of his vision to transform Grand Haven and preserve the birthplace of Folds of Honor. The Golden Bear quickly agreed to come on board and bring with him the world’s leading golf course design firm.

“American Dunes represents a collaboration of countless like-minded patriots, who want this golf course to forever stand as a tribute to the men and women of our military, a safe haven for veterans who find rehabilitation through the recreation of the game, and a backdrop to celebrate our country and those who fought for its freedom,” said Major Dan Rooney, a fighter pilot in the USAFR and PGA Professional who founded Folds of Honor in 2007, in a news release.

According to a news release, work is underway at American Dunes, and Nicklaus and Cochran have made several trips to the site.

“The property is basically sand underneath,” Nicklaus explained. “It had magnificent trees that had grown up over time, but is that really what this golf course is or should be with the dunes off the lake? What we are trying to do is create a golf course that will open up that feeling of coming off Lake Michigan, having the dunes, and then incorporating that into some of the inland areas that have the beautiful trees.”